KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Actuary Says Stats Point To Smaller Premium Increases Next Year

Also, the disparities in insurance coverage between states that embraced the health law and those that did not are more closely examined. And many Iowans will get to keep their pre-health law coverage.

USA Today: New Data Signal Smaller Jump In Health Care Costs
Statisticians working with insurers to project next year's insurance premium rates say they expect to see an average increase of about 7 percent, well below the feared double-digit increases making recent headlines. "The double-rate increases we've been hearing are probably exaggerated," says Dave Axene, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries. … Axene says that as insurers dig through the new health exchange enrollees to figure out their ages and health conditions to determine next year's premiums, he expects an overall increase of 6 percent to 8.5 percent (Kennedy, 4/16).

CBS News: Obamacare's Impact: Differences Emerge Between States
Two weeks after the close of open enrollment on the new Obamacare marketplaces, various surveys and studies released have given different estimates of the Affordable Care Act's impact on the uninsured. One clear finding, however, is the disparity between states that have more openly embraced the controversial health law and those that haven't. … States run by Republicans tended to rely on and have been more likely to reject the Medicaid expansion. More data is needed to assess just how the new law is impacting health coverage across the nation. However, two studies released this week illustrate how it may affect the coverage rates in red states versus the coverage rates in blue states (Condon, 4/17).

The Fiscal Times: ACA-Friendly States Are Insuring More People
In another sign that the Affordable Care Act is working as intended, states that have embraced the president’s signature health care law are reducing their uninsured rates faster than those that have not. Gallup’s latest survey shows states that have set up their own exchanges and expanded their Medicaid programs saw their uninsured rates for those 18 and older drop to an average 13.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014. That’s about a 2.5 percent year-over-year drop (Ehley, 4/16).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Effects Are Bigger Than Expected, Poll Finds
President Obama's health law has led to an even greater increase in health coverage than previously estimated, according to new Gallup survey data, which suggests that about 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage since last fall. That is millions more than Gallup found in March and suggests that as many as 4 million people have signed up for some kind of insurance in the last several weeks as the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act drew to a close (Levey, 4/16).

The Des Moines Register: 330,000 Iowans May Keep Pre-Obamacare Insurance Plans
About 330,000 Iowans will be able to retain old health-insurance policies that fail to meet all rules of the Affordable Care Act, state leaders announced today. Iowa has decided to go along with a recommendation from the Obama administration to allow extensions of the plans through 2016 (Leys, 4/16).

And some say recent changes to the Census could make it easier to view how the health law has affected Americans, not harder --

The Washington Post: Census Bureau: Question Changes Make It Easier To Assess Health Insurance Law
Concerns, first reported in the New York Times, have arisen that changes in the phrasing of one survey’s questions may make future comparisons more difficult. Critics of the health-care law have accused the Census Bureau of working to fudge the numbers so the White House can claim more success than is merited. [The director of the Census Bureau John H.] Thompson said that Census Bureau demographers had been preparing for many years to modify the questions and that the changes should make it easier to measure the law’s impact, not harder (Morello, 4/16).

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